Facts for Living: Marriage is a promise to work!

By Rebecca McFarland
Frontier Extension District Agent

Many people go in to marriage thinking that the person they married makes them “happy” and that it will be always be that way. Remember, happy is an emotion, and our emotions change day to day and even throughout the day. The illusion about living happily ever after is a comforting thought, but for long-term happiness or contentment, each partner must consider the commitment that they have made to their spouse.

080714-facts-for-living1Marriage isn’t just about being in love, although far too many people think that is what sustains a marriage. Marriage is about the commitment and agreement to love and support one another – even when you don’t “feel” like it. Love should be an active verb and is about a person’s ability to love their spouse. One of the advantages of marriage is that when you fall out of love with your partner, your marriage commitment keeps you together until you fall in love again.

Marriage is not designed to make you happy. It is supposed to keep you focused on your commitment to your partner for life. For better or worse. It gives you the structure, support and security from which you and your partner are free to create happiness.

Marriage is hard work and a full-time job. In a national survey of young adults 20-29, more than eight in 10 agree that one reason for divorce is too much focus on expectations for happiness and not enough on the hard work actually needed to make a keep a marriage successful.

When times get tough and you feel like giving up, it’s important to think about the vows you made to your spouse on your wedding day. If you are not married but engaged, discuss with your partner what your vows mean or will mean. Consider writing your vows down and post them in a place you will see often as a reminder of the commitment you have made or will make to each other.

Commitment means you will keep on treating your partner with respect, even if you are upset or angry. Commitment also means that you promise to support your partner now and in the future. How couples show commitment in a relationship can differ depending on past and present experiences and expectations.

Below is a list of actions that show commitment to your relationship:

  • I make time to do things with my partner.
  • I remember things that are important to my partner.
  • I don’t flirt with anyone but my partner.
  • I keep promises I make to my partner.
  • I pay more attention to my partner’s good qualities instead of things I don’t like.
  • I do not share my partner’s secrets with other people.
  • I do not share details of our relationship with other people.
  • I speak kindly about my partner to other people.
  • I make the effort to understand my partner’s needs and dreams.
  • I take time to think of ways I could make our relationship stronger.
  • I let my partner know that I value our relationship.
  • I tell my partner that I want our relationship to last.

The grass grows greener – on the side of the fence you water the most. Make choices that show your commitment to your relationship.


McFarland_RebeccaRebecca McFarland is the Frontier Extension District family and child development agent. For more information, she can be contacted at Frontier Extension’s Ottawa office, 1418 S. Main, Suite 2, Ottawa, KS 66067, or call 785-229-3520, or email [email protected].


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